University secretaries or board professionals have a huge impact on their institutions, often unknown to others outside of the board office. A typical day in a board office can involve having a parent call and express anger over a policy enforced by a residence hall; an email from a great-granddaughter of a trustee who served the university 105 years in the past, wanting to know if there is any data about or a picture of her relative; to a meeting with the university counsel to discuss complex issues that involve intense analysis of university bylaws or public laws. Life in the board office is certainly a mixed bag of ups and downs and intense responsibilities. Even though board professionals train themselves to be plugged into the needs of the university on a 24/7 basis, it comes as no surprise that, eventually, a board professional will decide to retire.
This decision is a difficult one because it is a monumental task turning over these responsibilities and, frankly, letting go. At the 2017 Workshop for Board Professionals on March 31- April 2, 2017 in Dallas, Dedra (Dee Dee) Williams and I will discuss the transition between myself, the seventh secretary of the board of trustees and of the university, and Dee Dee the eighth of the University of Illinois. In our session "Bringing Up Your Replacement," we will discuss the story of our six-month transition, including how it was executed, things that went well, and things that could have gone better. But, importantly we will discuss how trust, honesty, integrity, and openness were key to this transition.
As Dee Dee and I tell our story, we will discuss the powerful stages of this successful transition:
- Making the decision to retire
- Assembling a strong team: the search process
- Communicating that vision
- Encouraging applicants
- Interacting with the board (new secretary)
- Building momentum (new secretary)
- Stepping back (retiring secretary)
We look forward to discussing our story with you!